Welcome back to both of my readers.
As you two may recall, in the column two weeks ago we enjoyed the first six labors of Hercules in an effort to make you feel better about your own lives in comparison to Hercules’ cosmic troubles. For those of you who came in late, the nutshell version of Herk’s story was that he was the illegitimate child of Zeus. When Mrs. Hera Zeus learned Zeus was Herk’s Baby Daddy, she was sorely vexed. Hera tried to kill Herk in his crib with some snakes, failed, made Herk insane, and made him kill Mrs. Herk and his kids. Herk came to his senses and sought forgiveness by Apollo by doing penance in the form of 12 difficult labors.
Today we learn what Herk had to do in his last six dirty jobs. Job Number 7 was to capture the Cretan Bull. The Cretan Bull had an interesting family tree. The Bull’s mom was Pasiphae who was the Queen of Crete. She managed to aggravate the Sea God Poseidon. Poseidon put a spell on her that made her fall in love with the Cretan Bull. From this interspecies love affair, she gave birth to the Minotaur who was half bull, half man. Their family reunions were a caution. The Cretan Bull was raising heck all over Crete messing up fields and knocking down walls. Being a superhero, naturally Herk caught the Cretan Bull.
Labor 8 was to steal the Mares of Thrace. These were no ordinary cayuses. Instead of eating grass these horses ate people. Capturing a herd of giant carnivorous horses was a challenge even for Herk. The herd belonged to Diomedes the King of Thrace who wasn’t inclined to give them to Herk. Word on the street said Alexander the Great’s very own horse Bucephalus was a descendant of the Mares of Thrace. Herk whipped Diomedes’ cowboys. He unchained the horses and drove them down to the sea. Herk then left his buddy Abderus in charge of the horses, leaving to fight Diomedes himself at High Noon. Unfortunately, the horses ate Abderus. Herk was displeased and fed Diomedes to his own horses. Chowing down on humans had a calming effect on the horses. Herk duct taped their mouths shut and got them under control.
Number 9 was to steal the girdle of Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons. This was no mere panty raid. Hippolyta was an upper crust Amazon debutante who proudly wore her girdle that her Daddy had given her at her coming out party. Ever the ladies’ man, Herk sweet-talked Hippolyta out of her girdle. Herk’s old enemy Hera disguised herself as an Amazon to spread the fake news that Herk had kidnapped Hippolyta. The other Amazons attacked Herk’s ship thinking to save Hippolyta as a result of Hera’s lying mouth. In the confusion of the battle, Herk mistakenly killed Hippolyta. Luckily, he did get to keep her girdle.
Labor 10 was a doozy. Herk had to rustle the cattle herd of a three-bodied Giant named Geryon. A Giant with only one body is major trouble. Imagine what a three-bodied Giant could do. The mind boggles. There is some confusion as to whether Geryon had one body and three heads, or three bodies and three heads. He may have had six legs and six arms. Accounts vary. But whatever, he was a warrior. He owned a two-headed dog named Orthrus who guarded his cows. When Herk got near the cows, Orthrus attacked him. Herk smote him with a club sending Orthrus to doggy heaven. Geryon heard the ruckus and rumbled with Herk. Herk shot Geryon square in the head with a poisoned arrow causing his demise. To cover his tracks with the herd, Herk made the cows walk backwards all the way to the
Job 11 required Herk to steal the golden apples of the Hesperides who were three or more beauteous young nymphs of the female persuasion. They were sometimes called the Nymphs of the West because they lived at the edge of the world. Not only could they grow golden apples but they were excellent singers. When the occasion called for it, they could turn themselves into trees. Herk ran into Atlas who was holding up the sky. Herk volunteered to give Atlas a rest from sky holding if Atlas would steal the apples for him. Atlas shrugged and stole the apples. Atlas didn’t want to go back to holding up the sky. Herk tricked Atlas into holding up the sky again and ran off with the apples to make a really large pie.
Herk’s final job was to be a dog catcher to catch Cerberus the dog that guarded the Gates of Hell to keep the dead inside. Cerberus had three heads with a poisonous snake as his tail. He was meaner than a junk yard dog. Herk strode down into Hell setting out to capture Cerberus. Herk used his lion skin cape to wrap around Cerebrus to squeeze him into submission. Herk put Cerberus on an iron leash and his labors
Editor’s Note: No bulls, carnivorous horses, Amazons, Giants, two or three headed dogs were injured, nor were any golden apples bruised during the writing of this column. Now don’t you feel better about your own tasks in life? Now get back to work.